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'Toxic differential' could poison the Giants' season

By this measure the Giants are one of the league's worst teams.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Since the New York Giants lost to the Dallas Cowboys we have spent a lot of time on the question of whether the Giants are playoff contenders or pretenders. We asked Carl Banks. We asked Big Blue View contributors. Yours truly weighed in on the question.

Well, former NFL coach and currently NFL analyst Brian Billick has come up with a measuring stick he refers to as 'toxic differential,' and it's bad news if you believe the Giants are playoff contenders.

'Toxic differential' combines a team's takeaway/giveaway ratio with explosive plays (20 yards or more) allowed and generated to come up with a +/- score. Using this measuring stick the Giants are 29th in the league at -15, with only lowly Oakland Raiders, New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars being worse.

About the Giants, Billick writes:

The New York Giants' problem is giving up too many big plays (they're 29th in the league with 35 explosive plays allowed) and not generating nearly enough (20, tied for 30th). The loss of Victor Cruz will be acutely felt in this category, because Eli Manning simply doesn't have many offensive weapons to work with.

The problem isn't turnovers, where the Giants are even with 13 takeaways and 13 giveaways. The problem is those explosive plays, where this leads us right back to the discussion of how the Giants give up too many of those and don't generate enough of their own.

No matter what you believe to be the root cause of those issues -- coaching, personnel, play-calling, whatever -- that is the biggest thing the Giants have to change over the final nine games.